The European Patent Office announced a 30 percent discount on fees for microenterprises

Not only in India but also in Europe, the government is promoting startups to boost economic growth and innovation in various sectors. This support includes funding, mentorship programs, and regulatory reforms to make it easier for startups to thrive in the market. To support the cause, the European Patent Office (EPO) has recently announced a 30% discount on several of the official fees for applicants classified as "microenterprises." The new price structure aims to encourage small and medium-sized businesses with no patent experience to get access to the European patent system.

Several significant charge adjustments will take effect on April 1, 2024, as a result of the Administrative Council's thorough study of the EPO's pricing structure. The organization's finances will be safe thanks to these price changes. The organization will see a slight increase in internal and procedural renewal fees, a decrease in fees for small businesses, a streamlined fee structure, and incentives to further embrace digitalization.

The discount is available on several official EPO costs, such as the filing fee (as well as any extra costs associated with it), search charge, examination cost, designation charge, grant amount, and costs for renewals. Both directly submitted European patent applications and international (PCT) applications that are going through the European regional phase are eligible for the 30% decrease. For PCT applications for which the EPO prepared the international preliminary examination report, this can result in an additional examination fee decrease.

This discount comes with certain conditions. Before becoming eligible for the 30% fee reduction, all applicants must fulfill a set of requirements, like: Each applicant must fulfill one of the following categories: university, public research institution, non-profit organization, microenterprise, or natural person; and Each applicant must have submitted fewer than five European patent applications in the previous five years. a decrease of the filing and examination fees in cases where the request for examination or the European patent application is written in a contracting state's official language other than English, French, or German.

The EPO classifies organizations as non-profits if, by virtue of their legal structure or statutes, the applicable law prohibits them from being a source of income, profit, or other financial gain for their owners—or, if they are, if there is a legal or statutory requirement that they reinvest the profits made in the organization's interests.

Prior application caps are applicable. 

When it comes to using the European patent system, the EPO views applicants who have filed five or more prior European patent applications in the five years before filing any new application(s) as sufficiently "experienced" to not need financial support measures.

Therefore, the applicant will not be eligible for the decrease if they have filed five or more applications in the five years before filing any new application(s). Please note that EOP will not consider applications submitted earlier than five years before a new application when determining this cap.

Furthermore, EPO will evaluate each application individually if multiple submissions occur on the same day. When the total number of submitted applications surpasses five, it will reach the cap.

Smaller applicants frequently base their choice of patent prosecution strategy mostly on expenses. Reducing some of the official fees the EPO charges by 30% results in significant cost savings. As a result, we anticipate that this program will encourage more candidates to submit applications to the EPO. However, the plan will complicate the EPO's price structure, potentially necessitating the review of an application's eligibility. It is unclear if candidates with ties to bigger organizations that might not fit the requirements will suffer any detrimental effects.